Starry Night refers in an ironic way to the painting of the same title by Vincent Van Gogh. I am interested in this particular painting because it is so well known in the larger culture. It stands for the archetype of the artist as the shamanic figure who ventures where others fear to tread. It is seen to portray an ecstatic and immediate experience of the natural world, and by implication of the universe. This has become a cliché at the heart of the modernist conception of the artist, and it speaks to a persistent fascination with a direct experience of the sublime, an experience that most of us will never actually have.
In my version of Starry Night the painterly swirls of the painters brush work have been replaced with the ruched satin often used to line coffins. Instead of the vibrant image of the night sky over Saint-Rémy I have presented the viewer with a comprehensive set meteorological instruments that provide raw information about the current location, from the humidity to the phase of the moon. This information personifies the structures of the mind that inevitably frustrate our desire to experience the world in the way that we imagine Vincent once did.